Design principle: Aesthetics –

The power of beauty in design

Today’s article is about understanding what is aesthetic design and its importance for the perception of usability. Humans like pretty and shiny design; they desire it much more than functional one.

We enjoy looking and using aesthetically pleasing design, because it satisfies our senses, it gives us pleasure.

Designers tend to think of aesthetics as the visuals of the design. However, aesthetic design consists of more elements than just how it looks.

What is aesthetic design?

There is a whole branch of philosophy exploring aesthetics. Let’s scratch the surface of the Aesthetics field and learn how it relates to our design work.

There is a phenomenon that social psychologists call “the halo effect”. It means humans tend to assume that good-looking people have other positive qualities aside from their looks.

The same is valid for product design. Good looking products and user interface are perceived as more valuable and having more qualities.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Aesthetics are in all our senses, not just the sight. Aesthetic design is a 4D experience. Product designers, who are doing actual physical products are aware of that.

With the emergence of VR and AR technologies it becomes more important for digital designers to consider the 4D experience too.

There are 4 important categories, which can make or break the aesthetics of our designs.


The most dominant sense in majority of people is our sight. We can’t stop ourselves to look at what we find beautiful. It is as if the light that reflects from the beautiful design acts as a magnet for our eyes.

Visual aesthetics have these key elements: Color, Shape, Pattern, Line, Texture, Visual weight, Balance, Scale, Proximity and Movement. Using these element well will help us achieve good visual aesthetics.


Our ears are capable of perceiving a whole another level of aesthetic design. The ability to hear how your car engine works, how the digital product notifies you of new messages and etc. This is the power of sound aesthetics.

Sound aesthetics have these key elements: Loudness, Pitch, Beat, Repetition, Melody, Pattern and Noise. Using them well will create enjoyable “music” for our users.


Skin is the largest organ in human body. It also helps us experience the aesthetics. Material aesthetics are especially important for physical products.

Just remember, the last time you were buying cloths and feeling their texture or when you were checking out the latest mobile phone and feeling the frame material. Sometimes people make there buying decisions only based on the material aesthetics. Powerful stuff are these material aesthetics.

Material aesthetics key elements are: Texture, Shape, Weight, Comfort, Temperature, Vibration and Sharpness. By mastering them we can make our customers adore our products.

Taste and Smell:

Taste and Smell are sense that help us experience aesthetics even more deeply. Especially in food industry and different environment designs, these senses play an important role in experiencing aesthetics.

Key elements are: Strength, Sweetness, Sourness and Texture (for taste). Use these elements when possible to enhance the full picture, so our users can feel the aesthetics even deeper.

Author: Anton Nikolov

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